Group Five on the global trail for growth markets


South Africa’s nuclear build programme is unlikely to be as much as 9 600 megawatts, but will rather probably be between 1 800MW and 3 600MW, according to Group Five CEO Eric Vemer.

Group Five had positioned itself as a preferred company for any localised work that might arise out of the mooted building of further nuclear power stations in the country, Vemer said last week.

The construction company was one of the few active contractors looking for work from any local nuclear expansion.

“We can do construction in the nuclear island. Group Five is making sure that if nuclear happens, we will be positioned for any nuclear build,” said Vemer.

Estimates for the final cost of South Africa’s nuclear build run into hundreds of billions of rands.

Looking at Group Five’s energy interests, Vemer said that he expected further delays in local renewable projects.

With South Africa’s growth forecast at zero for this year, Group Five needed to find high-growth markets elsewhere in Africa, Vemer said.

Some of the projects that Group Five is working on include a new Hilton Hotel in Botswana, and the company is also looking at prospects in Liberia and Burkina Faso.

On the energy front, Group Five is seeking numerous contracts in west and east Africa, while in oil and gas, the company has solid prospects in front-end engineering and design studies in west and east Africa.

An example of a Group Five project is the $410 million (R5.5 billion) Kpone engineering, procurement and construction contract in Ghana for a 350MW combined cycle power plant.

Group Five, which has 9 300 people in 25 countries, is also looking to grow outside the continent, with projects in Poland and Northern Ireland, and the company is eyeing opportunities in the US.

In Northern Ireland, a 20-year Westlink tolling operation and maintenance project started in April. Westlink road is 60km long and is in Belfast.

“Positive early progress continues to be made with the development of concession road prospects in North America, along with our existing European partners,” Vemer said.

Group Five had made an entry into the US with Intertoll, securing a fee-based advisory engagement in Washington State, Group Five said in its annual report.

Cristina Teixeira, Group Five’s chief financial officer, said the company was engaging with the Competition Commission to resolve two remaining matters.

Group Five is under scrutiny for alleged collusive tendering on SA National Roads Agency contracts.

The company allegedly entered a collusive tendering agreement with WBHO and Murray & Roberts’ Concor Engineering on a tender for the rehabilitation of a section of the national road between Senekal and Vaalpenspruit in the Free State.

Turning to safety, Vemer said that the company had seen four fatalities among its subcontractors and suppliers.

“Two of the fatalities were falling-from-height incidents within the buildings and projects segments, and two separate vehicle-related incidents within the civil engineering segment,” he said.

On the topic of transformation, Teixeira said that black representation at management level had increased to 31%, which was up from 30%. Representation in senior management now stood at 30%, which was up from 28%, and middle management stood at 32%, up from 30%.

“Two black women have been appointed as senior management and one is the group’s first female managing director,” Teixeira said.

The construction firm appointed Bridget Ledwaba as its managing director of Intertoll Africa in October.

Ledwaba has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Pretoria and has completed the management advancement programme at Wits Business School.

Before joining Group Five, she worked for ArcelorMittal, Murray & Roberts, Thebe Investment Corporation, Absa and Aveng.

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